Review The Future
Summary: Review the Future is a podcast that unapologetically speculates about the impact of near-future technologies on society and culture. Topics will include the Singularity and Transhumanism, Automation and Artificial Intelligence, and more. Follow the podcast on Twitter (@rtf_podcast) and follow hosts Ted Kupper (@tedkupper), a screenwriter, and Jon Perry, (@QuibbleGames), a game designer.
For the first time ever, today's episode was recorded and uploaded on the same day, with no editing. As part of our push to get more content out quicker, we are taking steps towards a live radio format. On this podcast, we discuss coverage of the recent Uber self driving car accident. What does the tone of the coverage suggest about peoples fears and willingness to adopt this new technology? Later, we discuss the imminent rise of full body scans, and their potential usefulness as clothing models, fitness trackers, VR avatars, and even fodder for bizarre art.
We discuss AI risk argument through two recent articles, one written by sci fi author Ted Chiang and one by Steven Pinker, both of which dismiss the strongest version of the arguments as put forth by Nick Bostrom and others, in this episode. Is insight the same as morality, as Chiang seems to think? Does Steven Pinker even understand the basics of Bostrom’s claims? Does the foom argument need to be true to worry about AI risk? And at the end, a bit of fun (before we’re all turned into paperclips).
As part of our new casual discussion series, we do two mini reviews of recent science fiction TV shows. Jon shares his critiques of the the first episode of the new season of Black Mirror, while Ted offers his impressions of the new show Altered Carbon. Although we found some things to appreciate, in general we are not fans of these shows. We suggest reading Crystal Nights or Peripheral instead. Or maybe watching Rick and Morty.
Today we are rejoined by professor and friend of the podcast Robin Hanson. Robin has just co-authored a fascinating new book called The Elephant in the Brain. This book examines our hidden motives, and while it has nothing directly to do with the future, it does have significant implications for policy and institutional design. Robin is also an accomplished futurist (as exemplified by his other excellent book Age of Em) and so were able to press him on the possible future implications of his thesis and come up with some interesting answers.
In this episode we discuss the prospect of designer babies. As genetic engineering and reproductive technologies continue to advance, parents are likely to gain unprecedented control over their offspring. We discuss some of the near term prospects for germ line engineering and speculate about the degree of manipulation that might be possible in the near term. But perhaps more importantly, we discuss some of the ethical and policy implications of such advances. Will designer babies pave the way for a healthier and happier society or are we in for a more dystopian outcome?
Impressive demos promise that new technologies will democratize the kind of high-end audio and video fakery we usually associate only with blockbuster films. In this episode Jon and Ted extrapolate on that idea: what happens when many things can be faked, and everyone knows it? We discuss previous eras of forgery and modern forensics, posit an arms race to fake and spot fakes, and talk about the very real dangers of even momentarily misleading a diplomat or military officer -- but also how much fun this ability will be for comedians and satirists. Finally we imagine how much better Nigerian Prince scams are going to get.
Thanks in part to Elon Musk and other popularizers, many people have encountered the notion that we might be living in a simulation. However, far fewer people are familiar with the exact details of Nick Bostrom's "Simulation Argument", the paper from which much of the conversation originated. In this podcast, we attempt to do justice to Bostrom's argument by laying it out in a clear and organized fashion. After accomplishing that task, we devolve into our typical ad hoc speculation. Should we be worried about being shut down? Are people living in other countries actually just illusions? What is the David Bowie Theory of Simulation and why is it so important? These questions and more on this episode of Review the Future.
With the explosion of possibilities in new interactive systems brought by ubiquitous computing and VR, we thought it made sense to try to nail down some precise language for how to discuss all these types of systems. In this episode we explore a possible categorization schema for interactive systems along two axes: Variability and Goal-Orientation. We walk through the ways that goal structures and variable outcomes give and take power from the creator and user of an interactive system, and discuss a wide range of systems from books and movies to sports and immersive VR, but also websites, choose-your-own-adventures, triple-A video games, and many other points between.
In this episode, we have a free-ranging conversation that begins by discussing the modern replication crisis in psychology and other fields. We examine how this development might affect our views on the pace of progress generally. Amidst our many tangents, we consider the possibility of getting tech companies to share their proprietary data for the sake of science research and wonder if becoming an increasingly globalized society imposes coordination co
In this episode, we discuss the modern Darwinian battle for attention currently playing out on the global internet. We consider some of the psychological methods that have been and will be developed for capturing and keeping people's attention. We wonder whether the solution that will help us navigate this growing war for our eyeballs is digital assistant technology that can better help us cut through the noise.
We’re back! We really didn’t want to talk about Trump, but we felt like we had to at least address it. How does the new US president affect our future predictions? Find out in this episode. Relevant Links: PAPER: Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets
In this episode, we talk about how to train your AI recommendation engine to give you better results, and discuss the growth in music recommendation quality in particular. How much of the future is about the actual work of training your AI assistants? The reinforcement that you give them develops a model of you but simultaneously, you develop a model of it. What about if we got an algorithm admin panel to fine tune our AIs? How will algorithms handle context? We also dive into the mailbag and discuss some of the listener feedback we've gotten. In wondering who would be the mainstream spokesperson for futurology, we ask: Who is the Neil DeGrasse Tyson of the future? Tweet us your ideas @RTF_Podcast.
In this Future Express, Jon and Ted discuss bringing AI to legal finance and whether that might push us toward rationalizing our laws. We mention the parking ticket fighting app DoNotPay, and imagine that type of technology growing to cover most legal needs, starting an arms race between assistant software and bureaucracies that will force them to change strategy, because they are no longer protected by the inertia of time consuming obstacles. Responding to listener feedback, we reexamine the idea of elder care robots. In our continuing discussion of technological unemployment, we wonder whether the whole issue doesn't really come down to the superstar effect, and we wonder: can capitalism survive until the singularity arrives? Should it?
In this Express episode Jon and Ted answer a listener question about the future of citizenship, and wonder how it will be challenged and whether it's even necessary at all. We respond to another question asking for a beginner's reading list. We follow up on our discussion with Calum Chace and talk through Jon's skepticism of technological unemployment problems. How long will the era of technological unemployment last? Long enough to matter or is it another blip on the road to superintelligence? Will robot housekeepers be replaced all at once or piecemeal as things like Roombas get better? Is it practical to think most people will become digital nomads or are people driven to acquire status to the point that an endless pyramid of positional goods can keep capitalism going forever? How about the meaning of an infinite movie?
Author Calum Chace returns to discuss his new book, "The Economic Singularity: Artificial Intelligence and the Death of Capitalism" We discuss the likelihood of long-term technological unemployment and universal basic income, and whether the distribution challenges of our increasingly abundant economy require rethinking some of the basic elements of our current capitalist system. With something like 5 million people employed as drivers in the US, what will they do when AI can drive vehicles?